I found it a bit strange, the fact that although our forefathers - Abraham, Itzhok, Yaacov, and down to Moyshe Rabeynu were all prophets, as Hashem explicitly spoke to them, they did not consult, or tried to consult Hashem for explaining them a proper way of conduct in numerous conflict situations: Abraham didn't know what to do with Ishmael, Itzhok didn't know how to properly treat Eisov, Yaakov didn't know exactly what to do with his wives and his kids, especially Yosef problem, 10 brothers treated Yossef wrongly and he treated them back ... Moses has a lot of conflict situations (like the Golden Calf) and never consulted Hashem before judging.

NB. This question is about a general pattern in the whole Tanakh, not trying to find a different case here or there.

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    If these great people were always given full awareness of exactly what to do in life...then how would they ever achieve anything on their own? Furthermore, where did you find that being a prophet meant that you can ask Hashem anything at anytime and always be answered? Commented Nov 19, 2017 at 1:39
  • How do you know Abraham didn't know what to do with Ishmael? (The same question goes for the rest of them.)
    – Tamir Evan
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 15:18

1 Answer 1


Rambam states that even the prophets could not consult with Hashem at will (Mishneh Torah Yesodei Torah 7 ,4-5):

כָּל הַנְּבִיאִים אֵין מִתְנַבְּאִין בְּכָל עֵת שֶׁיִּרְצוּ ... וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמְּכַוְּנִים דַּעְתָּם אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁתִּשְׁרֶה שְׁכִינָה עֲלֵיהֶן וְאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁלֹּא תִּשְׁרֶה:

"All the prophets cannot prophesize at any time they desire...even if they attain the [required] frame of mind, it is still possible that the Shechinah will not rest upon them"

The very nature of such situations of crisis or conflict make it all the more difficult to attain the joyous frame of mind required for prophecy. And even if a prophet were to manage to attain it under such adverse circumstances, Hashem may choose not to bestow prophecy on him/her.

It's therefore possible that the prophets wished to consult with Hashem on many occasions, but either couldn't attain the necessary frame of mind, or were denied prophecy by Hashem, perhaps to test them and let them choose their own course of action. The absence of scriptual depictions of failed attempts at prophecy does not indicate that they did not occur.

  • Including Moshe?
    – DanF
    Commented Nov 19, 2017 at 4:39
  • @DanF No, not including Moshe, see 7:6
    – Jay
    Commented Nov 19, 2017 at 5:02
  • @Jay You just emphasize my questions: a prophet can not prophesize "automatically", but if "it is still possible that Hashem will not answer" - it is possible He will! So why not give it a try?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Nov 19, 2017 at 15:43
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    @AlBerko Again, what makes you think they didn't try? The fact that the Torah doesn't mention something doesn't mean it didn't happen.
    – Jay
    Commented Nov 19, 2017 at 20:34
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    @AlBerko The fact that Midrashim and commentators don't record something also does not indicate that it didn't happen. So there is zero evidence to support your assertion that the prophets never attempted to consult with Hashem.
    – Jay
    Commented Nov 19, 2017 at 22:14

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